The store was out of small turkeys. Lines were not ridiculously long and Black Friday started .. what…. day after Halloween? 2020 for lack of a better word has been a giant sh_tshow and as the holiday season begins, it is a reminder of that which is this year. The year that needs a global reboot.
This Thursday morning November 26th, I would be in New York with my friend, standing out in the freezing cold or like last year in a wild wind at 4am or 5am in order to be ballon handlers for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. We are not in New York. We didn’t even go to BallonFest in New Jersey to see and practice with the new giant balloons. Wednesday night we would board a bus outside of Macy’s in DC at midnight and make the trek into the New York City. My first year back in California, I flew into DC to experience the parade as I have in the past – meeting my friend, boarding the bus, sleeping on the bus until we rolled into the moonlit street and buildings of NY. Young I am not, so last year I flew into NY the night before, slept in a hotel and then made my way to the Javitz center to suit up. Last year the winds were so wild, we didn’t even know if the balloons could fly! Fly they did albeit a bit low. Our Star Group 3 had to wrangle the large Macy’s star balloons that kick off the Parade right after Tom Turkey!
This Wednesday night I was struck by all of the emotions of not doing what I have done in past years. I was even thinking about the past few weeks – a weird fender bender (all ok except my car); the passing of my cousin who I would stay with on my Macy’s Parade treks; the stores that are reminders that I am not the only one impacted by what’s going on in the world, we all are.
First thing Thursday morning I text my friend saying how much I was missing our time together and not being at and part of the parade. Their response was about their unexpected sadness. We are adults of course we will miss this ritual event but there were no words for the emotional thump in our chest at the reality of it all. I don’t want to be sad. I especially didn’t want my friend to be sad. I don’t want any one of us to be sad. Quite frankly I am tired of being super sad. Something has to give.
Next thing I know I am on my way to the store (as soon as it opens at 6 am) to buy giant balloons. And my friend, on FaceTime helping with the selection. If we can’t go to the parade – then I will make the parade come to us – kinda sorta. My neighbor has this great framed 3-D picture of New York. I have a bunch of puppets (don’t ask why – I am guessing that is another story) and now I have huge in proprotion to the picture and the puppets…. character balloons. With my camera phone and “live” option on, the parade begins as does the resilience and the giving.
Shot after shot I send my friend a text with some snarky commentary about the balloon going by and the crowd reaction. We are having our parade. maybe not as good as the iconic Macy’s parade, but it is ours.
We will get through this. I hate we have to be resilient related to things that are external to us – I don’t want to resign myself to the fact that those things should even exist – period. Why must we build ourselves up to protect us from the slings and arrows of a pandemic, grief, racial injustice, trauma? While those of us who are being the change the we want to see in the word, resilience is the armor that helps us through until those things don’t exist in the world any more.
So look, I am not one who celebrates thanksgiving as the historical institution from which we were taught. This year however, I did find that to get through this especially tough time and day without my family, best friend on the east coast and participating in the Macy’s Day Parade, I had to be resilient, be thankful for the many many things I do have and give to others. Yesterday we had our parade, maybe not as good as the iconic Macy’s parade, but it is ours and now it is yours too.
Find resilience in giving – I did.
We can get through this together.